“Big Fishes” by Larry R. Brooks

Larry R. Brooks


All the big fishes are gone.
We have caught and eaten them all.
There’s none left for Ahab or Hemingway.

The big catfish are forever—gone,
walleye and perch have disappeared,
the mighty flounder and swordfish
no longer ply the briny seas.
There’s nothing left but the little fishes,
minnows, crappie, goldfish, carp,
the ones we used to throw back.
No big salmon, and no big cod—all gone,
no giant sea bass hide amidst the coral.
The manta rays are all tiny now,
and there’s nothing but dinky red snapper
and baby tuna making their last swims.

We have eaten all the big fishes,
all large haddock and herring are—gone,
and the big mullet and mackerels—gone,
disappeared years ago, gone down
the gulping gutters of our throats.

All the big fishes are—gone.
The big dinosaurs are gone, too.
Woolly mammoths, allosauruses—gone,
sequoias, dragons, griffins, yeti—gone,
gone, gone—all the big fishes are gone,
and none of them will return
                              until we are—gone.

from Rattle #20, Winter 2003

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